7. Little Caribbean in Flatbush, Brooklyn
Though gentrification is changing the population of central Brooklyn, there is still a strong community of West Indian and Caribbean residents. Little Caribbean is centered around stretches of Flatbush, Church, Nostrand, and Utica Avenues in the neighborhood of Flatbush. The Little Caribbean name was established in 2017, largely due to the efforts of Shelley Worrell of caribBEING, an initiative that aims to “celebrate and amplify this thriving community where West Indians from the entire region live, work, and play, and to commemorate the history of the Caribbean Diaspora in New York City.” The Caribbean influence stretches into surrounding neighborhoods such as Crown Heights.
Around the 1950s, Italian, Irish, and Jewish communities in Crown Heights began to move out, while Caribbean and West Indian populations moved in. The Black and West Indian community grew with the establishment of public housing after the destruction of Ebbets Field, though this would lead to turbulent race relations. The neighborhood’s West Indian Day Parade, which began in 1964, has been a unifying force for the Caribbean community.
For years, the most famous food joint was likely Gloria’s, seen on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. The restaurant abruptly closed in 2020 after the building was lost in a long-fought legal battle. The spot specialized in Trinidadian and Caribbean cuisines with roti, oxtail stew, and callaloo. Former staff at Gloria’s opened their own Caribbean spot called Gee’s with a similar menu. On St. John’s Place is Jemz, a sit-down restaurant known for jerk chicken, escovitch snapper, and curry goat. Also popular are Cas West Indian & American Restaurant, Trinidad Golden Palace Restaurant, and Ali’s Original Roti Shop. Markets and shops sell products from countries including Guyana, Suriname, Belize, and French Guiana as well.